6 Aug 2018

A Great Encouragement at Church

Submitted by Stephen Winters
For many years I have felt like I've been muzzled in church. I did not feel the freedom to speak of what I was really thinking, feeling, and believing. I did not feel that it was acceptable (by the church staff and members) to just be real.
I have been searching for many years for a church where I could be real, where I could be accepted for who I am, and where I could openly express my thoughts and ideas and questions about religion and life. At times I have been so discouraged, thinking that I was alone, so different and so strange.
 
I finally found one that seems to be a place where I would be welcomed. We are now attending the Unitarian Universalist church. When I had first heard about it some years ago, it was so different that it scared me. However, as I would deeply think about so many ideas about God and life that were much different than our (then) church, I would search the Internet to see if anyone else was thinking these same things. Well, among the many.... sources that I found, many were by articles various Unitatarian Universalist ministers and authors.
 
I had a very neat and welcomed experience yesterday at church (I mean "church" in a very generic term). 
But, before I tell you about it, let me give you some background that would show why it was so meaningful to me.
For most of my early life I have been going mostly to conservative .... churches. They have been very dogmatic ... about their religious views. I have felt like their attitude has been "our way or the highway". 
 
 
I have been so intimidated about saying anything that would be in opposition to their Justice warrior side. Yesterday, as I was standing in the foyer greeting people, I saw an elderly woman that I knew who was holding onto a clipboard. She was trying to get people to sign a petition or other paper in favor of keeping Oregon as a Sanctuary State. She explained it to me and wanted to know if I wanted to sign. I told her that I would need to think about it.  She then said something like, maybe you can teach me something about it that I do not know. Well, I hestitatingly began to say a few words, I told her that I could see both sides of the issue, that the immigrates are people and that they have real needs (and I didn't say this part, but their needs are valuable and we need to be concerned about them as well) and I also said that on the other side, who is going to pay for them being here. What about the people who live here who are trying to make a living. And the immigrants come and work for low wages and take the jobs of the people who are already living here.) and she listened intently. With her encouragement I went on to tell her how I had been raised as a migrant worker. We would be at the farmers' fields waiting to be allowed to go into the fields so that we could pick the crop to make some money. As we were waiting each morning the farmers would tell us that we needed to wait, wait, wait until the trees would dry off. At the same time we could see the Mexicans in the fields working. The farmers wanted to let the Mexicans pick as much as possible because he paid them a lot less than they paid us. Having the Mexican in the fields pick the crops made it a lot more difficult for us to make enough money  to survive. What farmer is going to pay the legal workers a living wage if he can get the Mexicans to work for a lot less.
Well, the elderly lady at church listened with interest. She acknowledge that I had experience with the issue and she seemed to value what I had to say. This really encouraged me. It gave me hope that maybe my thoughts and ideas might be accept and valued, at least by some people at church.

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